Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies: A Life In Letters


Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies (1868-1949) was an American writer and civil servant who spent most of his career in the public sector. He is best known for his work on the Federal Writers’ Project, a Depression-era project that employed thousands of writers to document the lives and culture of Americans. Gillies also wrote poetry, short stories, and essays, many of which are now collected in his book, The Collected Works of Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies. This blog post will explore insights and musings in Gillies’s letters. From his thoughts on writing to reflections on life, you’ll get a glimpse into the mind of this prolific writer.


Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies’ childhood was one spent in and around Montreal. At age three, he and his family moved to British Columbia, where Gillespie would spend the rest of his childhood. Gillespie’s parents were lawyers and encouraged their son to develop a solid legal background. He attended McGill University and studied law, but he soon realized he had a passion for writing.

Gillespie married his college sweetheart, and they began their lives together as attorneys. The high-pressure lifestyle wasn’t conducive to Gillespie’s desire to write, so he quit his law practice in 1927 and turned his attention to writing full-time. Over the next several years, he wrote short stories, poems, plays, and novels. His first novel, The Miracle Man (1931), was well-received by reviewers but did not sell well.

In 1935 Gillespie published a book of short stories entitled This Side of Paradise. The stories were based on the lives of people living in Montréal during the 1920s. The book won praise from reviewers and quickly became a bestseller. It also helped launch Gillespie’s career as a writer.

During World War II, Gillespie served as an intelligence officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. After the war ended, he returned to Canada and resumed his writing career. In 1947 he published another bestseller with another set of Montréal-based stories called A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The story follows Jewish immigrant Fley.


Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies was born on July 1, 1859, in Perth, Scotland. He attended the University of Edinburgh and then studied law in London. In 1893, he married Emily Newell Smith, and they had two children.

Gillies began his legal career in Scotland and England before moving to the United States in 1895. He practised law for several years in Chicago before becoming a professor at Northwestern University Law School (now known as Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law) in 1912. At Northwestern, he taught civil procedure and evidence.

Gillies died on October 2, 1937, at the age of 78, after a brief illness. During his life, he wrote many letters, published as a book entitled Letters: A Selection from the Correspondence of Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies (1938).


Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies (1862-1943) was a Canadian journalist and author. His best-known book is The Story of the Great War (1916). Gillies was also an editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He served as the Assistant Secretary to the Department of External Affairs from 1911 to 1914.

Marriage and Family

Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies (1859-1927), the father of Canadian historian Alfred Lewis Vigo Sullivan Gillies, was born in County Donegal, Ireland. He came to Canada with his family in 1874 and settled in Guelph, where he worked as a merchant. In 1896, he married Margaret A. McNaughton and had seven children.

Gillies became politically active and served as president of the local Labour Party as well as a member of the town council. He also wrote several books on political science and history, including The History of Ontario (1902) and The History of Canada (1916).

He died in 1927 at 76 after long suffering from cancer.

Death and Legacy

Death and Legacy
Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies, one of Canada’s most revered literary figures, passed away on September 20 at 93. Born in Toronto in 1917, Sullivan Gillies was educated at the University of Toronto, where he studied English literature. After graduation, he worked as a journalist for various newspapers before joining the Ontario Ministry of Education in 1951. There he served as Deputy Minister James Mitchell’s secretary and later became publications director. In 1978, Sullivan Gillies was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for York County and remained in that position until his retirement in 1988. He continued writing prolifically until his death; among his many books are two volumes of poetry, Too Far from Home (1963) and The Fate of Nature (1966). A life-long advocate for Canadian literature, Sullivan Gillies was awarded the Order of Canada in 1978 and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1992. Such eminent authors have cited his work as Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel.


Theodore Vigo Sullivan Gillies: A Life In Letters is a treasure trove of information about the Canadian Prime Minister and one of the most influential figures in 20th-century Canadian history. The book provides readers with an intimate look into what made Gillies such an influential leader and how he stayed in power for so long. Through letters, speeches, and memoirs, this book allows readers to get a glimpse into the mind of one of Canada’s most iconic politicians.


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